Okay my people, the Instant Pot adventure continues. If you love to cook but live under a rock, the Instant Pot is a 7 in 1 electric pressure cooker that also serves as a slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker and more and it is taking the world by storm by the look of it. I was given one to try out and review and I love it so much that I just bought a second one (it came last night!) and I am going to start teaching pressure cooking classes in Toronto with them. You could say I am obsessed.
I am going to honest here and admit that I had NO intention of trying to cook sauce and pasta all together in this thing. I thought it was going to be disgusting and watery. Most the recipes I was finding called for using a jarred sauce and I will be using a jarred spaghetti sauce right before I pose nude for Dog Lover's Almanac.
Then i got the Cook's Illustrated pressure cooker book called Pressure Cooker Perfection and since America's Test Kitchen is my #1 go to for tried and true, sound advice, I had to change my mind. If these guys were vouching for this technique, it had to be safe.
If I were to make this dinner on the stove, the sauce would require at least 1.5 to 2 hours of simmering, not to mention that waste of litres of water in which to boil the pasta. Using the pressure cooker and cooking the pasta IN the sauce, it was on the table in under an hour if you include the time to saute, brown the meat, time for pressure to build, 6 minutes of active cooking time and no giant vat of boiling water thrown down the drain. Coincidentally, the recipe from the book was more or less the same as my recipe for making meat sauce and after much research I stuck to their ratios of liquid to pasta. You could replace some of the water with broth or a bit of wine too, just make sure you don't mess with the actual amount of liquid itself.
There will be more adventures in pasta cooked in sauce in the Instant Pot, but for now, here is Shack's very favourite pasta and now that he knows that this has become a viable week night dinner, we are in trouble.
Pressure Cooker Rigatoni and Meat Sauce
**check the end of the recipe for a slightly longer variation
2 or 3 cloves garlic
100g white mushrooms, finely chopped (pulse in food processor or chop by hand)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbls tomato paste
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
kosher salt and black pepper
450g italian sausage (I use a combo of sweet and hot)
828ml (28 oz) can San Marzano tomatoes
430 ml (14.5 oz) tomato puree
3.5 cups water
453 g (1 lb) dried rigatoni
Heat the oil in your pressure cooker's pot (with the Instant Pot, hit saute) and saute the onions, mushrooms, garlic and a pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper until softened, at least five minutes.
Stir in the oregano, basil and tomato paste and cook another minute, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Add in the sausage meat that you have removed from the casings and brown, breaking it up with your spoon, until no pink remains.
Pour in the water, the tomato puree and, using your hand, squish the San Marzano tomatoes in to break them up and then pour in all of the liquid from the can. Give the pot a good stir to make sure you get up all of the fond on the bottom of the pot and then add in the dry pasta. Give it one more good stir, lock on the lid and and program it for 6 minutes using the manual setting (at high pressure).
When the time is up, open the lid after you release the steam (quick release) and let it sit for another minute or two , giving it a couple of stirs, to thicken up a bit. If the sauce seems too thin, you can turn the saute feature back on and simmer it for a couple of minutes as well.
Serve in big bowls with freshly grated parmesan.
** edited to add a variation:
When you have the extra time, you can make the sauce right up to the point where you would add in the dry pasta. Instead, close up the machine and seal the vent, hit manual and cook the sauce for 15 minutes on HP. Release the steam, add in the dry rigatoni at this point, close it back up and then program it for 6 more minutes at HP and proceed as instructed. The extra 15 minutes of cook time give even deeper depth of flavour to the sauce